David Glasner had been superintendent of schools in this Cleveland suburb for less than a year when a single sentence from a fifth-grader left him shaken.
There’s an article in the Washington Post called What happened when an Ohio school district rushed to integrate classrooms | Shaker Heights sorted students by ability level, and the top classes always had more White students. In the pandemic, it unraveled this ‘tracking’ [August 16, 2023].
Author Laura Meckler, who has a book coming out called Dream Town: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equity, starts out with this anecdote:
He was visiting Woodbury Elementary School, home to the district’s fifth- and sixth-graders, in fall 2019. Here, the sorting of students by ability—or perceived ability—began. Advanced students, about half the grade, were sent to the basement for enriched math and English language. The other half stayed put.
Glasner popped his head into a fifth-grade classroom and saw that all but one student were Black. A colleague asked a child sitting in the corner, “Where are the White students?” And the student replied, “The White kids—they’re enriched.”
He didn’t say the White kids were getting enrichment. They were enriched. In this formulation, it wasn’t just a question of classrooms, but actual identity.
“That student has internalized that idea that those White kids are better than him,” Glasner said later. “That one incident was a punch to the gut.”
Here is the amount of education Dr. Glasner has, according to LinkedIn:
All that education, and he knows less about the black/white IQ gap (or ”test gap” or ”achievement gap”) than a black fifth-grader attending a Shaker Heights Middle School. And Shaker Heights is the place to learn that.
A 2019 post on what’s called the ”Shaker Heights Effect” by Steve Sailer (also responding to a Laura Meckler piece in the WaPo) pointed out that
in the Stanford database of all the school district test scores in the U.S., Shaker Heights has, by one metric, the third largest white-black gap, trailing only comparably liberal Berkeley and Chapel Hill.
This is known as the Shaker Heights Effect: Rich liberal towns tend to have high scoring white kids but don’t seem to do well at educating black kids. Shaker Heights even hired Nigerian-born anthropologist John Ogbu to study this question.
Professor Ogbu’s book is devastating in a different way. It is a study of the racial gap in students’ school performances in Shaker Heights, an affluent suburb of Cleveland. Whether measured by grades, test scores, or the quality of courses taken, black students lagged consistently behind white students.
Why? Black teachers, white teachers, black students and white students all give essentially the same answer: Black students simply do not work as hard.
An alternative explanation, of course, is that they can’t work as well.
Glasner [Email him] should know that, with his five graduate degrees, but as Upton Sinclair said,”It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”